Realising there’s a part of the internet that’s been around even longer than it has that still hasn’t been monetised to full effect, Amazon has signed a licensing deal with Warner Bros. to begin selling officially-sanctioned fan fiction, above and beyond Marvel’s Avengers films (hiyooooo). In a manner similar to the site’s pre-existing self-publishing e-book platform, Kindle Worlds will allow writers of fan fiction the chance to profit from something they’d probably be doing for free anyway, with or without an audience, albeit at a much lower rate than if they, say, changed the characters and settings from Twilight just enough to be legally discernible and then maybe added anal beads or something.
Under the terms of the platform, the authors themselves would receive a mere 35% of the net for books over 10,000 words and only 20% for shorter work, as opposed to the standard 70% that goes to creators of wholly original work who choose to publish on Amazon. At least some of that shortfall will go as royalties to the creators of the original works whose characters the fan-fic authors are puppeteering to their own nefarious ends. For now, those creators are Pretty Little Liars‘ I. Marlene King and Sara Shephard, The Vampire Diaries‘ L.J. Smith, Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec and Gossip Girl‘s Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage and Cecily von Ziegesar, all of whom run TV shows that themselves started out as long-running series of novels.
Not to undermine the creative confidence of the teenage girls who, in large part, make up the audiences of those three shows, but Amazon will obviously be looking to expand its list of licensees into more fruitful areas of fan fiction sooner rather than later, namely big name sci-fi and fantasy properties which, having already established massive, imagination-spurring worlds, are natural playgrounds for enthusiastic fans – your Potters, your Stars Trek and Wars, your Whedonverse, what have you. One stipulation: NO TOUCHING. Despite its persistent popularity amongst those too timid to seek out actual porn, the subgenre of fan fiction that sees authors dream up a variety of sexualised situations for their favourite characters has been prohibited by Amazon. Guess it’ll be immediately halting sales of Fifty Shades then.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.